Uganda’s Milk Exports: 23 Million Liters Stuck and Going to Waste

Uganda’s dairy industry is a crucial element of the country’s economy, providing employment to over 1.5 million people and contributing significantly to its GDP. In recent years, Uganda has become a major milk exporter, with increasing demand for its high-quality dairy products from regional and global markets. However, the industry is currently facing a significant challenge that is impacting the livelihoods of farmers and the wider economy: an oversupply of milk has resulted in 23 million liters being stuck and going to waste.

“The milk processors are stuck with about 24 million litres [of milk] currently. It is not like Kenya has issued a formal ban but this is through refusal of import permits which is a requirement for access to market,” said Dr Samson Akankiza Mpiira, the acting executive director of DDA.

He added: “So, you ask for 18 permits and they release 1 or 2. So, it appears the country is open [to importation of milk from Uganda]. But is this the expected volumes of trade? No.”

Dr Akankiza said Kenya has capacity to absorb around 700 million liters of Uganda’s milk every year but only around 200 million litres of milk from the country is sold to Kenya annually.

DDA data

According to statistics from DDA, the total milk production in the country is around 3.2 billion liters per year, a jump from around 1.9 billion litres in 2014.

But milk consumption in the country, according government statistics, has remained under 1 billlion liters per year, partly because some families cannot afford the price of milk and many also ignorant about the importance of taking milk.

Maj Gen. David Kasura Kyomukama, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, said beside promoting local consumption through school milk-feeding programme, they will export to more countries due to Kenya’s restrictions.

“Most of the inputs we use in the country come from Kenya. For the example, you [Kenya] are selling me vaccines [for animals]. So, if you are not buying my milk, where do you think my milk will go? or if you are slow in buying my milk, don’t you think I can also become slow in buying inputs from you?” he said.

Maj Gen Kasura added: “Those who are slow in clearing imports from Uganda are playing with fire. They [Kenya] buy maize from our gardens.”

The permanent secretary said they got a market from Algeria.

“These people are coming to Uganda next week. Already, people are taking our milk there but we want to formalize it. There is a big market in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. The Kenyan market is just historical but it not going to collapse our agriculture,” he added.

According to information from the DDA, other importers of Uganda’s milk include Egypt, United Arabs Emirates, Japan, Ehiopia and Tanzania. The DDA also indicated that the Algerian market deal would absorb around 1.4 billion liters of milk worth around 500 million dollars (Shs1.8 trillion). They didn’t specify the number of years.

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